February 21, 2019

Measles Outbreak Rises To 39 Confirmed Cases

02 February 2019, 02:29 | Randall Craig

Chelan-Douglas Health District Urges MMR Vaccines

The anti-vaxx movement's role in the latest measles outbreak

At least 44 people in Washington and OR have fallen ill in recent weeks with the extraordinarily contagious virus, which was eradicated in the 2000 as a result of immunization but arrives periodically with overseas travellers.

Although the risk of becoming sick is low, DPH has notified individuals who might have been exposed to the virus and are potentially at increased risk for developing measles.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee last week declared a state of emergency because of the outbreak, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been consulting with local and state officials.

Advocates of the anti-vaccine movement, which is strong in the western United States, continue to spread misinformation on social media, Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County public health director, told the AP. The county has had most of the diagnosed cases so far. Most of the confirmed cases have been children under 10. "We have no measles cases associated with this outbreak and we have no measles at all". "The recommended two doses of the measles vaccine provide even greater protection - 97 per cent". There have also been three reported cases in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to the Washington Department of Health, vaccination rates in Pullman schools hover around 90 percent.

Four per cent of Washington secondary school students have non-medical vaccine exemptions. Both states now allow parents to opt out of getting the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine. The national exemption rate is about 2 percent, and Washington has become a hotbed for the measles. It's scheduled for a public hearing in Olympia on February 8.

"That's pretty typical protocol that we engage with", Maxwell said. Previous attempts have failed. Harris' bill would preserve the medical and religious exemptions for the MMR vaccine and would preserve philosophical exemptions for other vaccines.

The vaccine has been part of routine childhood shots for decades. These would typically result in 400 to 500 deaths and about 1,000 cases of encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

"People are feeling extremely oppressed and feeling like they can't make an educated decision", said Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the group. "I'm just so scared", she said.

In an effort to stop the spread of the illness, the Health Department and partners have provided more than 16,000 vaccinations.

Epidemiologists say it is early yet to talk about outbreak. Anyone who is not vaccinated against rubella is at risk of getting the disease. In recent years, however, the viral illness has popped up again from NY to California and sickened hundreds.

Measles symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis (red watery eyes) or a runny nose. "And a few days after that you get that famous rash". CDC data show 90 percent of people who are unvaccinated near someone who is infected will contract the disease.

Nearly everyone who is not immune will get measles if they are exposed to the measles virus.

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